Author: John Saul
Performed by Luke Daniels
Released: March 2014 by Brilliance Audio
The day that the iron doors of the old mill in Westover, Massachusetts, closed forever is a day that still haunts the sleepy town¿s residents. On that fateful day 100 years ago, 11 people died in a fearsome fire, and since then, no one has dared to revisit the mill or the dark secrets locked inside it.
Now, a member of the once-powerful Sturgess family has aspirations to reopen the mill. Little does Philip Sturgess know that by unlocking the padlock he is also unlocking horrible secrets from the past. There are forces at work that will do their best to see the mill doors stay tightly closed. But as Philip presses forward with his plans, the townspeople will be forced to face the terrible vengeance that waits in the darkest corners of the abandoned mill.
The old mill has a horrific past, with the exploitation of child labour and the unimaginably shocking and cruel action of one man a century ago. There are unexplained incidents involving the mill which escalate when plans to develop the building begin in earnest, and turn into something very dark and menacing as the terrible secrets kept locked away for so long are set free. This will be vengeance on a huge scale.
Carolyn Rogers married Philip Sturgess, the owner of the mill, after her divorce and she and her daughter, Beth, are now living at the Sturgess mansion with Philip’s daughter, Tracy, and his mother. Neither of them welcome Carolyn and Beth and make their lives miserable. I like the twist of Carolyn’s ex and current husband being good friends. The characters are easy to like, or not, as the case may be. Beth is lonely and struggling to fit in to her new life and because of this she believes she has made friends with Amy, the ghost of a child about her own age. Tracy is the stuff of nightmares and takes every opportunity to make cruel fun of Beth.
It’s a powerful story, very atmospheric, with emotions running high and wild, accentuated immeasurably by Luke Daniels’ performance.
The way the lives of the characters all seem to be entwined with the mill and what happened all those years ago is quite creepy. As the story unfolds it begs the question whether actions taken in the past could influence the lives of subsequent generations.
This is my first foray into John Saul’s work, but not my last, and his writing drew me in, the supernatural aspect was woven into the story really well. The ending was totally unexpected and horrifying and given the epilogue I’m surprised there hasn’t been a follow-up. Maybe Mr Saul like to leave the reader dangling, I’ll have to wait and see.